Developing the Ostomy Exhibit

Each year approximately 12,000 people in Canada undergo ostomy surgery for various bowel and bladder diseases or conditions. The Ostomy Canada Society reports that there are over 70,000 persons living with an ostomy in Canada (https://www.ostomycanada.ca/ostomy-canada-magazine/). These individuals require specialized fecal and urinary containment devices which are uniquely innovative in design to provide safe, effective and discrete care.

Canada Flag Map
70,000 persons living with an ostomy in Canada.

In 2012, now retired Honorary members of Nurses Specialized in Wound, Ostomy and Continence Canada (NSWOCC), Dianne Garde (1968 to present) and Kathryn Kozell (1981 to present) decided “to preserve ostomy history through the display of ostomy artifacts depicting the evolution of ostomy devices and their associated care”. A few years later, the Innovation in Ostomy Care exhibit was formally opened at the Zane Cohen Centre for Digestive Diseases, at Mount Sinai Health System in Toronto, Ontario on November 6, 2018.

Kathryn Kozell and Dianne Garde.

This educational exhibit hosts a collection of thirty ‘ostomy artifacts’ which chronicle the historical development of ostomy products and related accessories from the 1920s to present. Those selected represent an innovative design, the use of newly developed materials for the time period, specificity of use and in some cases, an early prototype to many products used today.

Fig. 1 Examining the artifacts
Examining the artifacts.

The expertise of a museum management professional was engaged who examined each item for its properties and best display characteristics. Mounts, posts, gluing, fine nylon threads and descriptions to accompany each piece were customized. A mock display measuring the actual size of the custom designed exhibit case was laid out and again, each piece was examined to ensure that it fit the historical sequence and its featured attribute. On December 5, 2017 the display was finally constructed by the museum management professional ensuring that each piece was featured prominently.

Fig. 2 Mock exhibit
Mock exhibit.

The viewer will be able to witness and come to appreciate the creative engineering behind each of these artifacts and the skills required to manage these various containment systems throughout the years. The extraordinary ‘adjustments to living’ that the individual endured to assume as normal a life as possible will be appreciated.

Fig. 3 Assembling the exhibit
Assembling the exhibit.

This educational venue, Innovation in Ostomy Care and now this website, is a tribute to the strength and determination of people whose lives were restored through the advancement of these ostomy devices.